I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence.Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)
Something I’ve been working on personally is becoming more in control of my emotions and, more importantly, trying not to immediately respond when something makes me angry. In order to do this, I’ve found it necessary to be conscious of the anger itself. Specifically, I’ve noticed that when we get angry we tend to move into a state of mind that is obsessively focused on the source of this anger. We dwell on how we were wronged over and over in our minds like an uncontrollable movie, which then makes us even more angry. In an attempt to stop the movie and momentarily feel better about the situation, we tend to lash out. It feels good for a second, but it almost never gets you anywhere.
Anger and fear are two emotions that serve important evolutionary purposes and certainly have their place, but I’ve found neither to be productive when it comes to solutions to serious problems, or to establishing better relationships with those you care about. When one is angry or fearful the instinctual response is to do whatever might make you feel better in the moment. Allowing oneself to react from a state of fear or anger will almost always lead to poor decision making, unless you are actually in a situation that requires such a response.
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